Some small business owners get by, by doing it all. But there are times when it’s better to hire an expert.
Rather than being costly, the right consultant saves you cash, saves you time and makes good business sense, even if you’re on a tight “micro-business” budget.
Small business owners will rarely try to fix their own plumbing. They call an expert for that.
For some reason, when it comes to critical business functions like marketing, accounting, advertising and taxation, areas that are usually way out of their expertise, they try to go it alone anyway.
The result of this “obsessive do-it-all DIY” mentality?
a) costs you more money and time,
b) causes future troubles and headaches,
c) distracts you from your “main game”, i.e. building the core of your business, and
d) limits the potential of your business
We know some people think this advice is a “con-job”, that consultants are just looking to make money for themselves; sometimes they might be right.
But in discussing this article with our team (including some very successful & experienced business people) the team was honestly unanimous: For small businesses, “DIY” in certain areas can be a disaster and often limits the potential of a good small business.
What are the areas we’re talking about, where “DIY” can kill a small business?
- business setup, finance and structures,
- competitive strategy,
- marketing promotions,
Reading about DIY vs. outsourcing in small business journals and talking to seasoned entrepreneurs, the wisdom always seems to go like this:
“When doing “that task” on your own distracts you from the core, profitable activity you are in business for, then hire an expert.”
In that sentence, “that task” can be any of the above items, and any other important business function where you’re more a hobbyist than a pro.
[Why is payroll in that list? Because although it’s not rocket science, it can involve more HR law issues than you realise – and payroll is a notorious time-eater for a small business with staff.]
The good news is, there are lots of credible, honest and brilliant people doing those services in Australia. And the cost for some traditionally “rip-off” services like website building have crashed down to earth, forced there by honest consultants who’ll build a fantastic website for a tiny fraction of what it cost five or ten years ago.
The fact is, even if you have an MBA and you did courses in every aspect of business, you are not an expert unless you focus on a field, gain years’ of experience and, importantly, stay on top of changes year-round. No one person can do everything at a top level. But certain jobs really need doing at a top level, even for a micro-business.
We often hear from clients who are so grateful for the reduced stress and increased confidence they get from knowing we’re doing our part for a very fair fee.
That last bit is important: the fee. To make this work, you need to tell your consultant what you can afford and listen carefully to what they propose. Sometimes it will be more than you expect. Listen carefully, clarify needs and what will be done, compare options and consider who you trust. Don’t take the first low-ball offer. And don’t low-ball a good consultant. You want a consultant who is going to be successful, who’s going to work professionally and who you can trust to support your business.
If you choose a “discount” expert, okay. But consider this: The cheapest advice can sometimes be the most costly for your business in the long run.
Here are a few other articles that support this logic of using an expert consultant when it’s needed…
Why you should hire an expert (from Aussie blog site “Flying Solo”, a micro-business owners portal)
When to hire a bookkeeper or an accountant (from Entrepreneur Magazine)
When you should hire an accountant (from Xero; even the DIY financial software people at Xero know that you should not do everything on your own)
Hire marketing professionals (from Dummies dot com)
On a slightly different topic, here’s something good we read about Hiring Mistakes Everyone Makes (from Fast Company)